Ryan Kavanaugh, the principal and founder of Proxima Media and Relativity Media, discovered firsthand that social media can sometimes have too much power. He also holds a financial interest in Triller, a social networking and video-sharing online business. Last fall, Kavanaugh had to sue a well-known YouTube star named Ethan Klein because of what happened to Triller in April 2021.
Understanding the Events That Led Up to Ryan Kavanaugh’s Lawsuit
Triller helped to arrange and then broadcast a boxing match between Ben Askren and Jake Paul, a former YouTube star himself, last April. The premier fight was one of the first large events hosted by a division of the social networking and video-sharing site called Triller Fight Club. The event was only the second fight broadcast by the online network.
On November 28, 2020, Triller Fight Club broadcast its first-ever fight between Ray Jones, Jr. and Mike Tyson. Kavanaugh’s company earned 1.4 million pay per views for the Jones and Tyson fight. The Triller team anticipated even better results with the Askren and Paul fight but soon discovered that someone had stolen millions of their paid views.
Internet Piracy Rears Its Ugly Head
Triller Fight Club set the price per view for the April 2021 fight at $49.99. Unfortunately, Ryan Kavanaugh estimates that the Triller division of his media companies lost more than $100 million in revenue due to over four million stolen views.
Illegal pirating of pay per view shows is not new. However, it usually involves a single individual attempting to circumvent the pay screen to enjoy a show without paying for it. Kavanaugh states that the leadership at Triller Fight Club caught plenty of people doing that and told them they would not take legal action if those who pirated the fight paid the $49.99 fee. Most people did exactly that, with Ethan Klein and H3 being notorious exceptions.
Ethan Klein Rebroadcasts the Askren and Paul Fight for His Podcast’s Own Benefit
Ethan Klein went far beyond pirating the April 2021 fight for personal use. Instead, he rebroadcast the fight to his millions of H3 viewers, a podcast he owns and operates. The damage from Klein’s actions was two-fold. First, he prevented Ryan Kavanaugh and Triller Fight Club from taking in millions of dollars in revenue because of lost sales. Secondly, Klein made a substantial sum of money for himself through sponsorships and ad sales stemming from the pay per view fight he pirated from Triller.
YouTube Places Responsibility for Stopping Piracy on Its Users
Under YouTube’s bylaws, owners of pirated content must identify the people who stole their content and report it to the company. Although that is what Kavanaugh did, it took so long for YouTube to investigate that people who would have paid to watch the boxing match on Triller had already watched the pirated version on H3. Ryan Kavanaugh decided to right this injustice by suing Ethan Klein and H3 in a lawsuit that he filed on November 30, 2021.
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